Because sufficient statistical surveys have not yet been done, the exact number of people livening in the United States who are deaf or suffer from hearing impairment is not known. The best estimates vary drastically, the numbers falling anywhere between 22 million and 36 million people. What is certain is that the hearing impaired for a significant part of our national community, and thus sign language interpreters are in constant demand. They are often employed by local school districts, colleges and other educational institutions, hospitals, vocational centers and community service agencies.

The Job of a Language Interpreter

The job of a language interpreter is to facilitate communication between different languages and cultures. In our multi-lingual and multi-cultural society, interpreters are essential in the day-to-day running of schools, hospitals and courts of law. Interpreters allow physicians and health care providers to accurately communicate with their patients, and for patients to communicate their needs, etc.

It’s not simply language that interpreters must convey either, but culture as well. Words and phrases are often informed by a person’s culture, and direct translation of such phrases is not always possible. The process is complicated by the fact that translators are often dealing with complex concepts and ideas. Thus they must be culturally aware and able to think quickly to come up with accurate, equivalent translations of culture-specific phrases and words. In addition to all that, language interpreters who work in a specialized field, must learn and be able to capably translate special terminology associated with that field.

The Sign Language Interpreter

Sign language interpreters have an additional challenge in that they must translate not only between two different languages, but between two different language modes: spoken and signed, whereas most language interpreters only have to deal with one mode. Sign language interpreters must make use of hand gestures and facial expressions in order to convey tones, emotions and specific meaning to people with hearing impediment that would otherwise be conveyed by the speakers tone of voice, volume and inflection.

Sign language interpreters must possess fluency in both English and ASL. A bachelor’s degree is not required, though it is usually preferred, especially in a competitive interpreting field.

To learn more about ASL sign language interpreter services and language translation please visit

By the end of this session you will learn:
-The basic requirements of an statement of qualification (SOQ)
-How an SOQ relates to the application form (STD 678)
-Pitfalls to avoid when applying for jobs that require an SOQ
-Tips on writing an SOQ

Presenter: Lorna Fong Assistant Secretary (retired) California Health and Human Services Agency

For Certificate of Completion, please visit the following link:

If you have any questions, please contact Phone: (916) 445-1547

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